Customer Service: A Key to Success

Customer Service

 

Paul Eitmant

I was visiting with an old friend who has also been in our industry for more years than we like to admit, because we always state that things have changed and it’s different from when we stated in the industry 40 plus years ago. 
However, one thing that has not changed, that is one of the core values that makes a company stand out against it perspective competitors, is how we treat our ultimate end user/customer.

Here’s the definition of customer service from Wikipedia: the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase. Accordingly, it may vary by product, service, industry and individual customer. The perception of success of such interactions is dependent on employees “who can adjust themselves to the personality of the guest.” Customer service is also often referred to when describing the culture of the organization.

Customer service is an integral part of our job and should not be seen as an extension of it. A company’s most vital asset is its customers. Without them, we would not and could not exist in business. When you satisfy our customers, they not only help us grow by continuing to do business with you, but recommend you to friends and associates.

The practice of customer service should be as present on the show floor as it is in any other sales environment.

I always remember those companies in our industry that had great customer service policies and procedures. It starts with the person who answers the phone and redirects me to right person and then listens to my problem and solves the issue.
It should also be noted it does not stop there. It continues to your will call and/or shipping department. It is always reassuring to get the correct information when the products will hey my receiving dock and or job site.

It also should be noted that distributors should be aware of the manufacturers’ policies and procedures, they are not the same.
Below I share with you five best practices that any business can use.* They will help you in not only creating a customer driven atmosphere, but also excel in customer service.

1. Set the customer’s expectations
We know that nothing impresses a customer more than when someone goes over and beyond the “call of duty,” but have you set the expectation for the customer? I’m a firm believer in no surprises. Let a customer know what you are willing to do for them, what service you will provide to them. If you set the expectations and then exceed those expectations you’ll have a customer for life. My favourite saying is “under promise and over deliver.” 

2. Listen first then speak
Customers want to be heard. They want to know you are listening. They want to know that you have an interest in what they have to say. If they are shopping they may ask you for information or advice. Use that time to direct them to the right product or service. If they are upset, use active listening, let them know that you hear them, and work to discover the root of the problem. Ask questions, get to the bottom of it, and provide a resolution.

3. Draft customer service standards
Define your service standards, and make sure every employee is aware of those standards. Having a clear document that explains acceptable standards will help in setting the customer’s expectations and they will help in measuring your employees and creating training programs to help them excel. Create your customer service standards to be specific, concise, measurable, based on the requirements of your customer, written in your job descriptions, and used in performance reviews. You can’t measure or enforce what your employees don’t understand.

4. Treat your employees as your first customer
We’ve all heard “happy wife, happy life.” Well, let me do a little word play with you. “Happy employees means, happy customers.” The attitudes and behaviour of your employees will determine your customer service and satisfaction. 

5. Create customer touch points and follow-up after the sale
Creating touch points beyond a sales shows your customer that you care. Follow up with them and thank them for their business. So many businesses forget this step that if you remember it you will stand out above the crowds. This outreach will show that you care about their satisfaction and encourage them to not only tell others about your business but also inspire them to purchase from you. Research shows that follow-up is the best way to create customer loyalty. Use follow-up to thank them for their business, share with them your menu of services, and encourage add-on purchases. Can you really afford not to do it?

By paying attention to this side of your business you can continue to grow your business/profits and become a true believer. This is a true key to your success.

* Source: “Five Best Practices When It Comes to Excelling at Customer Service,” Laura Lake, http://marketing.about.com/od/relationshipmarketing/a/Five-Best-Practices-When-It-Comes-To-Excelling-At-Customer-Service.htm.

Read more from Paul Eitmant in CEW:
– A New Player in the Canadian Gray Market
– The Cost of Bad Leaders
– NAFTA Still a Good Show
– On Being an Effective Coach
– The Biggest Risks to Canada’s Economy In 2015 and Beyond
– Networks and Lighting Standards – Follow Up – One Year later
– How Healthy is Your Business?
– Social Media: Is It the Future for the Electrical Industry?
– The Right Price to Get the Order — the Last Look
– The Good Old Boys Club “Changing of the Guard”
– Who’s Next Within North America’s Electrical Distributor Channel?
– Generation Y – Next Generation – Never to old to Learn!
– LEDs: the Fastest Growing Product/Market for 2015


 

Paul Eitmant is President and CEO of IP Group International, which serves the needs of business-to-business enterprises in over 30 countries worldwide by adding specialized expertise to the business planning and implementation process; Tel: 480.488.5646paulipgroup@cox.net

 

 

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